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Conflict & Security

Motivation

How do countries achieve peace, stability, and security after a conflict? Why do some governments regain control, while others continue to compete for authority? These questions are relevant for many countries around the world. Since 1970, there have been between 20 and 50 armed conflicts every year — and the vast majority of these are internal (as opposed to war between different countries).

These events are traumatic for citizens and destabilizing for states and the effects of conflict tend to linger long after active conflict subsides. Post-conflict fragility can perpetuate violence in new forms, while diminishing the government’s capacity to provide basic services, damaging the economy, and changing a country’s security forces.

Despite the importance of this topic, research has yet to fully address important questions such as:

  • Why do some countries contain violence, protect rights, and develop rapidly after war, while others do not?
  • What determines which groups gain power after a conflict? Under what conditions does the state (as opposed to a rebel group) regain control of a country after war?
  • How do citizens perceive and respond to different types of security forces (state military, rebel forces, militias, police, etc.)? Which groups do citizens trust and rely on to preserve public safety and economic security?
  • What affects citizens’ willingness to engage with their government (e.g., pay taxes or enlist in the military)? Under what circumstances do citizens work with police, even when the state has been absent or adversarial toward its citizens?
  • What helps victims and perpetrators of violence reconcile, heal, and reintegrate into communities?

Activities

CEGA’s Conflict & Security initiative was launched in 2022 with support from the Minerva Research Initiative of the US Department of Defense. The initiative’s first funded research project focuses on post-conflict security, particularly the relationships between states, rebel groups, and citizens across Latin America. In this “anchor” project, researchers will gather data and generate new theory and evidence as part of the most comprehensive effort to date to understand Latin America’s security forces over time. 

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